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Killzone: Mercenary – Behind-the-Scenes Interview, Single Player Details

Fred Dutton's Avatar + Posted by Fred Dutton on Feb 04, 2013 // SCEE Blog Manager

For a series that’s always been at the bleeding edge of modern FPS design – both in terms of technical performance and muscular gameplay – it’s fair to say that expectations are sky high for Killzone: Mercenary – the first PS Vita entry in Guerrilla’s acclaimed franchise.

Until last week’s reveal, all the studio has shown off was a brief teaser clip at Gamescom last September. But earlier this month, in a very snowy Amsterdam, it finally took the wraps off the game, showing off big chunks of both the single and multiplayer modes.

And you can breathe easy – it looks absolutely stunning, packing all the visceral grit and gristle of its home console brethren into PS Vita with real style. Don’t believe us? Remind yourself of the new trailer below.


We sat down with Piers Jackson, who’s leading development at Guerrilla Cambridge (the same team responsible for the exemplary LittleBigPlanet PSP), to find out more about the game, with particular attention paid to its generous single player campaign. Read on below, and come back next week for a closer look at multiplayer. And if you’ve got any questions relating to how the game plays, feel free to ask away in the comments.

PlayStation.Blog: Where does Mercenary fit in the full Killzone narrative?
Piers Jackson, Guerrilla Cambridge: Mercenary starts shortly after the beginning of Killzone 1. We commence the game with the battle for Vekta in full flow – you actually start out in a destroyed Vektan city and the opening few levels are all about liberating the planet. We then transition into the Killzone 2 universe and the invasion into Pyrrhus. The story itself wraps up at some point in the Killzone 2 universe.

“We’ve tried not to shrink it at all”

PSB: The game looks phenomenal on PS Vita. Was it a challenge shrinking the full console experience onto a handheld device?
PJ: In some regards we’ve tried not to shrink it at all – we’ve tried to get a full Killzone experience running on PS Vita. The system is incredibly powerful – we’ve got graphics that are comparable to Killzone 3 running on a handheld.

PSB: How easy was it getting the Killzone game engine up and running on the system?
PJ: It’s optimised in a lot of locations but the core AI system is based precisely on Killzone 3. We’ve had to replace a few of the audio and rendering systems but the back-end leading into them is pure Killzone engine architecture. We’ve also got certain things in the renderer that are unique to our system – we’ve added reflection mapping on the floor and particle systems can actually be lit as well.

There may be a few areas we’ve had to tone back a bit, but we’re pretty convinced that we’ve come up with something that touches most of the technical features from the main Killzone engine.

PSB: You’ve managed to retain that crunchy, weighty feel to the controls that really helped define the game on PlayStation 2 and 3…
PJ: So much of it is in the acceleration curves on the controllers and, obviously, as we were using the Killzone control input system, a lot of that came over for free. We needed to rebalance it slightly for the PS Vita stick inputs – which are slightly different than the DualShock – but that is the feeling you expect from Killzone; that weightiness. If you don’t have that, you’re not making a Killzone game. It was imperative that we kept it.

“If you don’t have that, you’re not making a Killzone game.”

PSB: How do you change your thinking when you’re designing an FPS for a portable system rather than a home console?
PJ: There are elements in terms of visibility that you have to pay attention to – how far away you’re positioning enemies, and what you’re positioning them against. When you’re playing on a large TV screen you can get away with more. Having said that, we have a really high-resolution screen on the Vita so the characters stand out very well, even at a distance.

PSB: Multiplayer is obviously important but I know Killzone fans are really hoping for a meaty solo campaign too. How much content can they expect?
PJ: We have nine single player missions. On average, on a first-time play-through, they’ll take between 40 minutes and an hour each to complete. So, it’s a lengthy game. It’s got a full narrative too – every mission brief is set up as a full story. There are twists and turns. It’s a very detailed single player experience; it’s not cut back in any way.

PSB: How are you encouraging repeat play-throughs?
PJ: When you first get to a level, there’s a standard play-through mode. Once you’ve completed that you’ll unlock three challenge modes – Covert, Precision and Demolition. Each challenge mode will dictate that you need to play the level in a different way. You may have gone in guns blazing first time, but if you take the Covert challenge you’ll need to be much more stealthy – you can fail it if you get detected.

Precision is usually about accuracy and how you’re taking out the enemy – headshots, melee kills, interrogations. There can also be a timed element to it. We also have gun challenges in there as well, so you may have to play the mission using a certain weapon.

Demolition is largely about exploding things, as you might expect! You’ll have additional requirements in the mission that you’ll need to destroy.

“Each challenge mode will dictate that you need to play the level in a different way.”

PSB: Big action set pieces are a key component of any great shooter. Is it harder to pull those off on a handheld device?
PJ: We’ve got some pretty hefty set pieces in there. We have a halo drop, as you might have seen – that’s a pretty epic way to open a mission! We really don’t skimp on set pieces. We blow up giant cruisers, we have flight sections – there are all sorts of big moments.

PSB: What new gameplay mechanics can fans of the series expect?
PJ: The shop is the biggest one for us really – the fact that you can go into a level kitted out however you want. You can then purchase new weapons as you go, to tailor the experience as you see fit.

Stealth is another big one – we have light stealth in the game. If you’re being quiet and using silenced weapons the AI will not pick up on you. If you kill a trooper and the body is left lying around and another enemy finds it, they’ll come and hunt you down. We’ve extended the AI to cater for additional play-styles.

Those are the big ones, but obviously the melee system now uses the touch interface. And outside of the core mechanics, I think the fact that we’re showing the Killzone universe from a different angle will appeal to core fans as they get to see the universe in a different light.

PSB: You’re the first studio outside of Guerrilla HQ to develop a Killzone title. That’s a lot of pressure!
PJ: It’s worth pointing out that a good number of our art team have been working on previous Killzone titles so it’s not like the franchise is entirely new to us. When we embarked on Mercenary obviously we worked very closely with the guys in Amsterdam to maintain the continuity, and we’ve had a very tight relationship throughout the process.

But it’s been great. It’s been a rush! It’s a big project, and a very exciting one – it feels great to finally be showing this to people outside the studio.

//Add Your Own

52 Comments

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1

+ JKar275 on February 4th, 2013 at 8:08 am said:

I’m very excited for this game & I can hardly wait for Sept.

Questions:
1) How many different weapons are there?
Please give some examples?

2) What are some of the most unusual (or special) weapons in this game?

3) Will we be able to purchase upgrades for our weapons like different types of scopes, extended clips, bullets with special properties, etc?
If yes, please provide examples.

4) Will there be any vehicles that our character can drive or pilot?


2

+ GranpireV on February 4th, 2013 at 8:15 am said:

Do I detect a bit of open-ended design? I’m already in love.


3

+ snakeeyes211 on February 4th, 2013 at 8:17 am said:

Awesome Looking game


4

+ EdwardCORE on February 4th, 2013 at 8:21 am said:

Considering how strong the Vita is then, we are missing some titles for it, like God of War, Gran Turismo, even third party games like DmC and Metal Gear Rising, which I think would be amazing in portable form and the PSN games like Journey, Unfinished Swan, VF5, Daytona, SSF2HD Remix, etc. If the system is just as powerful as a PS3, then we should be seeing this rather sooner than later. It’s about time for Sony to revamp the Vita with a big whoop.


5

+ Zezzler on February 4th, 2013 at 8:22 am said:

From what I’ve heard so far about the controls, and the single player content, I’m sold.
But the multiplayer in Killzone 2 and 3 is what kept me coming back again and again, and with Killzone Mercs, I feel slightly concerned about it.

The scale of those fantastic 32 player warfare matches was always so much fun, and in KZ3 Operations was even better! I really hope that we aren’t given maps that are as small as the ones in Black Ops Declassified where the minute you respawn, you die. Please convince me that the multiplayer will be up-to-snuff to the console versions, or even better.


6

+ CMaverick444 on February 4th, 2013 at 8:27 am said:

This game looks phenomenal and I already have it pre-ordered. My question is this:

In the game Unit 13 there is an excellent system where the locations present a dynamically generated mission. This ensures near limitless replayability. With the objective of Killzone Mercenary being money and contracts, will there be random contracts? I understand that the story mode cannot or may not have this, but is there another mode where the contracts can be for, well anything really from gathering information to assassinating an NPC (although if the NPC had a friends PSN name it would be awesome)? Again, this game is already purchased and I eagerly await it. I just hope that there is a mode with random contracts. If you cannot tell us that there is one even though there will be, just say “No comment”


7

+ sheengrtr on February 4th, 2013 at 8:27 am said:

Will this run at PS Vita’s native res?


8

+ Nick930930 on February 4th, 2013 at 8:29 am said:

I want to see more titles like this on my Vita. No more crappy minigames that I can get for free on my GalaxyS3. How about a port of Tony Hawk HD for the PS Vita? That would be fantastic to play on the go!

God of War?

Fat Princess?

Twisted Metal?

Gran Turismo?

a better Resistance and Call of Duty made be a good developer?


9

+ Nick930930 on February 4th, 2013 at 8:31 am said:

so far the only games that are good on the vita are assassins creed, LBP, mortal kombat, Uncharted, PS Allstars, and Gravity Rush.

Pretty poor considering it’s been almost a year now since I bought this thing. Not even a word of anything else being made AFTER killzone, killzone is the very last one on the list!


10

+ ThreeLeggedFreak on February 4th, 2013 at 8:32 am said:

Will it have co op missions and objectives?

How about cross play on some maps/modes with Killzone 3? That’d be ace.


11

+ Fardeenah on February 4th, 2013 at 8:34 am said:

looking forward for the game… and the full console experience on the vita… now i am excited… a few tech question… is it running at full resolution? will we get a demo of the game? is this the best graphic vita can produce or is there still untapped potential of the vita


12

+ Mando44646 on February 4th, 2013 at 8:34 am said:

Just beat Killzone 2 and starting on 3. Im excited to get to play this on my Vita!


13

+ swisstylez on February 4th, 2013 at 8:37 am said:

I have high hopes for this game.. Moreover this game will decide if I should keep my barely used Vita


14

+ LordOfRuin on February 4th, 2013 at 8:38 am said:

Wow, first impressions are that it’s an impressive technical achievement. It looks very shiny. I’d like to know if SouthPaw control schemes are being offered. I’m a strictly lefty thumbed player, and missing out on this bad boy would really bum me out.


15

+ SDC3 on February 4th, 2013 at 8:40 am said:

I am not generally a fan of first-person games, but I love stealth. If stealth is a viable tactic for the majority of this game I’m in.


16

+ KazeEternal on February 4th, 2013 at 8:42 am said:

I can’t wait to get this game, I had it on Pre-order the minute it was announced…. subsequently forgotten by everyone and before it was announced again ^^. One of the reasons I own a Vita today was the promise of Killzone and it looks like it’ll live up.

However, number of players is sparse in multiplayer….. why?

Spawn Grenades?

We could also use a new IP for vita that is of AAA caliber.


17

+ Elvick_ on February 4th, 2013 at 8:42 am said:

Will there be options to turn off touch melee? I can see the negative press on that already. Same question for running with double tapping the rear touch.

And will you use rear touch as an option for melee swiping? It seems far more intuitive to me than removing your hands from the controls, but no game has used it that way yet. Is the rear touch even capable of it?


18

+ BushLovesOsama on February 4th, 2013 at 8:44 am said:

How is the difficulty of the game? I hope its more to KZ2 and not KZ3. Whilst KZ3 had great difficulty, it was nowhere close as hard as KZ2.

Is the floating head piercing device called the Mantis Engine or Manty’s engine? I’ve been reading previews and have seen 2 different names.

Are there gonna be any characters from past and future KZ games going to pop up somewhere in the game? Maybe Colonel Radec, Jan Tampler or perhaps the ever forgotten Helghast traitor Hakha from KZ1?
Also, please no Rico. Not many people like him from KZ2 or KZ3.


19

+ Elvick_ on February 4th, 2013 at 8:44 am said:

@9: There are way more good games than that. Doesn’t appeal to you =/= bad.


20

+ reson8er on February 4th, 2013 at 9:13 am said:

Nice interview. I’m glad to see you guys giving out information that shows you care. Especially since the first few FPS Vita games have been so poorly received.

After reading this, I feel FPS on Vita, and KILLZONE are in good hands. I can’t wait :)


21

+ SolduNuts on February 4th, 2013 at 9:14 am said:

I am kinda of upset about this game. When it was first teased, it sounded like it was going to be a open world game with different contracts that could be completed for cash. I thought that NEAR would be included in the contract game play. Now I read the press releases and this game is going to be like any other shooter. Nine missions that you play over and over again does not sound very fun and why does Vita games seem limited in the amount of players can participate online. Please tell me the Vita is capable of more online people than what Resistance, COD, and this game allows. The graphics look great and I am sure the shooting will be fantastic but Killzone is known for big online battles and this game simply won’t have it. Sorry for the rant but I want great games for my Vita.

Sold.


22

+ doctorSTRANG on February 4th, 2013 at 9:15 am said:

I have only one question (and thats what will make me buy this game or not): Can we join helghan forces, or make missions for then and kill earth soldiers? Actually it would be nice if we could kill Rico. I really hate that character.


23

+ ProfessorGerbik on February 4th, 2013 at 9:16 am said:

Just to confirm this is not ad-hoc only is it? People keep saying it will be ad-hoc only but every where else I see it says “Online Multiplayer”.

I have yet to find anything official that mentions ad-hoc only for Killzone Mercenary. I figured I would just ask just be to be sure though if you could answer that.


24

+ soundandvision77 on February 4th, 2013 at 9:24 am said:

My only question is, can you release this game sooner than September??? It looks so awesome, I can’t wait.

That is all.


25

+ ProfessorGerbik on February 4th, 2013 at 9:29 am said:

@21, SolduNuts

I think having more players like that leaves a lot of room for matches that are far too long, never start or a bunch of empty rooms. I think 4v4 is perfectly fine for a handheld, another thing people need to realize is the game cartridges space is only up to 4GB. Maybe later on when developers have access to larger capacity game cartridges they will support more players in multiplayer.

Again you can’t compare the PSP to that because the quality was never there and even with supporting more players online those games were not as big as the Vita games are in terms of space taken up on the game cartridge.

AC3: Liberations is perfect example, if they had more space to work with on the cartridge I can almost bet that it would have had a better multiplayer but since the single player itself took up all the space alone, it left very little room to even add a full fledged multiplayer experience which is exactly what happened.

You have to find balance when all the space you can work with is only 4GB especially with games of this quality.


26

+ RE_Player on February 4th, 2013 at 9:52 am said:

Already pre-ordered.


27

+ terrencec06 on February 4th, 2013 at 9:53 am said:

Looking forward to a finished product…. Just think you guys need to move it up some. But with the same token complete the game with no glitches PLEASE!


28

+ BiezulbubBill69 on February 4th, 2013 at 9:55 am said:

Game looks like it’s going to be incredible!! I really can’t wait to buy it! After the letdowns that were Burning Skies and Declassified lolz. September can’t come soon enough! A little disappointed that it’s only 4 vs 4 in the online but what can ya do lol :(


29

+ MushThePainter on February 4th, 2013 at 10:07 am said:

I hope the Platinum doesn’t take me 5 hours to get like Resistance, I traded that game in the day after release..


30

+ spaceboy21 on February 4th, 2013 at 10:16 am said:

Looking forward to the game. It sounds like a definite AAA game on the Vita. Perfect!


31

+ nYcFrEeWiLL82 on February 4th, 2013 at 10:17 am said:

Id have to totally agree with #9..AAA games are what sell systems..the reason i bought a PS3 and stayed faithfull to it was because of its EXCLUSIVE GAMES!! Putting phone games on a vita just doesnt make it worth having at times..as soon as you release a GOW or a GTA game for it ..sales will SKY ROCKET on the PS VITA..dont get me wrong im also looking forward to this KILLZONE game and some other PSN games like Guacamele and hopefully a SHANK..but AAA games on the PS VITA is what would make it a TRUE HANDHELD GAMING DEVICE!


32

+ plaztiksyke on February 4th, 2013 at 11:26 am said:

Are there any GLBT characters? Trophies for stealth and/or no kills? Contemporary social commentary?

Online co-op missions with a story like in Uncharted 2 and 3?

While Resistance was pretty solid on Vita, the poor quality video (tons of artifacts). ho-hum story, and brainless violence (not really any puzzles or stealth) made us lose interest after playing it off and on for a few weeks.

The rendering engine sounds amazing, though. Hopefully other first- and third-party titles get to take advantage and some of the tech is folded into the next SDK release. I’ll definitely try the demo.


33

+ Kchow23 on February 4th, 2013 at 12:11 pm said:

I wish this game would come out sooner! Looks amazing and hopefully sets the bar for future FPS titles on PS Vita.


34

+ Hogwild333 on February 4th, 2013 at 12:24 pm said:

I am super excited about this game! Will there be any form of co-op available?


35

+ Kchow23 on February 4th, 2013 at 12:32 pm said:

I hope that the controls aren’t too weighty even by Killzone standards, but I assume there will be some tweaking still to come and that there is some variety within the gameplay. How is the rear touch control being implemented?


36

+ TomatoDragon on February 4th, 2013 at 12:38 pm said:

Killzone is the only fps series that I play, as I’m not a big fan of the genre…but I’ll be picking this title up for sure.


37

+ starscreamerx31 on February 4th, 2013 at 12:57 pm said:

Love love….. Love my vita and I desperately want this game to succeed so I hope they blow us all away and this game does well.

In jafar’s voice : give me de lamp


38

+ TBag_062 on February 4th, 2013 at 1:03 pm said:

when the inevitable bundle for the vita and killzone comes out than I might just have to pick one up but until then I just cant seem to commit to buying one


39

+ ZGoldenLion on February 4th, 2013 at 1:24 pm said:

Hello GC! First off I’m so excited that a killzone game is coming to the vita and i plan on picking up a copy day 1. But I’ve been wondering why you all decided to go with 4v4 multiplayer? I thought if anyone could make an awesome MP experience it be you guys and it makes me wonder if that’s all the vita can handle. The last 2 FPS games on the vita featured 4v4, can you tell me what made you guys go with that number?


40

+ YungShep on February 4th, 2013 at 1:59 pm said:

reading this from my vita :) very very excited for a true fps to play on my vita, burning skies doesnt do he job.


41

+ BlindMango on February 4th, 2013 at 2:05 pm said:

So you guys ARE pushing the release date of this game forward or back, right???

If not, Grand Theft Auto V will destroy this title unfortunately.


42

+ chev327flatout on February 4th, 2013 at 2:23 pm said:

Well you said in the article that if we had questions to ask and you would answer but I see that no questions have been answered,

I have the same question (more of a concern), because this game was started near the beginning of the Vita it suffers from the same forced touch controls that the launch titles did (notably Uncharted GA, which was a great game but the forced touch sequences held it back), will you add an option to turn these off?

Sony needs to realize most players DON’T want these gimmicky touch sequences… and for this game I am referring to the melee kills. Touch controls on certain things are okay (like the touch to launch the air to ground missile in the trailer, or how Uncharted had the charcoal rubbings) but as far a melee is concerned it takes you right out of the action and forces you to move your hands awkwardly.

So I beg you please make these forced touch sequences optional.


43

+ SolduNuts on February 4th, 2013 at 4:41 pm said:

@ ProfessorGerbik,

Sorry I don’t buy anything you typed out. The Vita is a lot more powerful than the PSP and cartridge space has nothing to do with how many people can play online in a given game. Other people have already brought up that the Vita is limited to 4v4 because that is how many people can use cross chat at the same time, but this is clearly wrong as Hot Shots Golf has 30 player online lobbies. So again I ask why 4v4? Please tell me that some day my Vita will be better than my old PSP for online game play.

Sold.


44

+ From_Concentrate on February 4th, 2013 at 7:46 pm said:

Looks like my VITA finally found the fps it’s been looking for.


45

+ midnightshade on February 4th, 2013 at 9:13 pm said:

Killzone mercanary == DAY 1 buy!! I can’t wait. This game is looking good.

@Nick930930 – your list of good games is missing quite a bit. I understand some of these may not of been genres your into but they are still great games and need to be mentioned.
You forgot the following good games:

Persona 4 Golden – this game has like 50+ 9.0+ scores on the web and its phenomenal!
Hot Shots Golf – world invitational — fun as hell golf game.
Sound Shapes – Great indie musical platformer / platform
Retro City Rampage – 8bit GTA with so much more
Rayman Origins – Phenomenal Platforming
Ninja Gaiden Sigma + (and soon to be NGS2+ ) – just as good as console version with extras!
Unit 13 – Amazing shooter that more people should play!
Ragnarok Odyssey – Monster hunter like on a fast pace scale with co-op.


46

+ midnightshade on February 4th, 2013 at 9:13 pm said:

(con’t from above)
Need for Speed Most Wanted – The full console game on the vita with multiplayer too.
New Little Kings Story – a great hybrid -rts/rpg
Disgaea 3: Absence of Detention – The full ps3 game with all the dlc and extra characters , levels and more.
Dynasty Warriors Next – IGN gave this game an 8.0 for a dynasty warriors game they don’t do that… and the game is great!
Escape Plan – great puzzle game
Escape Vektor – another great puzzle game
Metal Gear Solid HD Collection – recreated to perfection…its MGS need i say more?\
Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath HD – better than the console version
The Pinball Arcade – Great port
Zen Pinball 2- state of the art fantasy pinball!
Zero Escape virtues last reward – great game, different style but fun.
Touch My Katamari – Excellent Katamari game
Lumines Electronic Symphony – great game (although it was pricey)

As you can see there are tons of great vita games, you just need to go beyond your standard genres and look. (this list didn’t include a lot of fighters because its the one genre that i don’t really like, yet vita has too many of them.)


47

+ Pabloo1010 on February 4th, 2013 at 9:53 pm said:

Can’t wait to get a Vita for this! Hope to get one this year


48

+ ProfessorGerbik on February 5th, 2013 at 6:37 pm said:

@43, Soldunuts

You don’t have to believe me. It’s practically common sense why, I mean you are comparing Hot Shots Golf multiplayer to to Killzone Mercenaries? Thanks for proving my point further.

Yes because we all know Hot Shots Golf is graphically on the same level as Killzone Mercenary and takes up nearly as much space as Killzone’s single player will…..


49

+ ProfessorGerbik on February 5th, 2013 at 6:39 pm said:

I mean seriously comparing Hot Shots Golf to Killzone Mercenary….


50

+ Josuey_de_PR_ on February 6th, 2013 at 3:02 am said:

this looks to me like an amazing game, i just wonder why not at least 5v5 i really dont know lately all these games have been 4v4 and that isnt as cool, does it afect the framerate? im sure the ps vita surpases the ps2 in power sooo why cant it have more players? why?


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